Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day musings on the best and worst Presidents

This is my more or less annual post for this holiday. In the 6 years since I wrote it, I haven't seen the need to update it.


It's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today. But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.

Top Five:

#5: Calvin Coolidge

Nothing To Report is a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.

#4. Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase). He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.

#3. Grover Cleveland.

He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now. He continually vetoed pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later. This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character."

#2. Ronald Reagan

He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above). He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash. It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.

#1. George Washington

Could have been King. Wasn't. Q.E.D.

Bottom Five:

#5. John Adams.

There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2.

#4. Woodrow Wilson.

Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918. He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy. The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.

#3 Lyndon Johnson.

An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.

#2. Franklin Roosevelt.

America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, rounding up citizens to be interred in concentration camps, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle. At least Mussolini met an honorable end.

#1. Abraham Lincoln.

There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to. Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history. Along the way, he suspended Habeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit. Needless to say, Progressives adore him.

So happy President's Day. Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad. Yet.


Anonymous said...

I would humbly like to suggest that maybe it is time to modify this list.

I think an argument could be made that perhaps our most recent former president fits between LBJ and FDR? Or higher? I'd maybe even suggest dropping LBJ to #6 ... or would you consider ties?

Personally, I'd put WW as #3 and BO as #2 ... FDR as #4 - he simply built upon WW's foundation ... as LBJ built upon FDR's. BO was filled with deliberate evil intent. But this is your list, not mine.


Jeffrey Smith said...

Have you seen the meme going round today? Average the birthdays of POTUSes 1-44 (by converting dates to days of the year, so GW is 53, etc) and the result turns out to be July 4th.

Don't know what, numerologically speaking, that portends for POTUS 45.

Lawrence Person said...

You left out James Madison, who deserves a place on the bottom five for his disasterous launching of The War of 1812.

Borepatch said...

quizikie, it's too soon to rank BHO (or GWB, for that matter). We need some time to get perspective on their presidencies. Not that I'm a fan (of either, really), but it's hard to rank them on the list.

Jeffery Smith, this is enough of a coincidence that I would like to see the math. The story may be too good. ;-)

Lawrence, I left out a lot of Presidents on both lists (for example, James Polk who was pretty darn good but not top 5 IMHO). Madison made some goofs but I don't see him beating any of the bottom 5.

LSP said...

Many years ago, around the time of the '68 Chicago DNC, my dad came back from some conference. He'd grown a beard. I was tiny but astute and said to my mom, "He looks like Abraham Lincoln!"

He shaved it off.

Richard said...

Your indictment of Lincoln misses that he also instituted the first income tax.

juvat said...

I think a Centennial Tranche breakout would be interesting. The circumstances of the Presidencies would be more consistent. Top5 Bottom 5 for the First 100, Second 100, and Third 100. Carter, Clinton, Obama would find appropriate places with certainty in that list, Nixon and Ford would probably round out that list (You know which one ;-) ). Reagan would be on the other with the rest in TBD status, or filled with Bush, Bush and Trump as placeholders.

Comrade Misfit said...

The man who preserved the Union in the face of those who would have torn it apart in order to preserve their right to own other people should be #1.